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Posts Tagged ‘Air Conditioning’

Clear The Air: Signs That Your Indoor Air Quality May Be Lacking

There’s a saying that goes, ‘You are what you eat,’ but even more true for residents everywhere affected by poor air quality is, ‘You are what you breathe.’ The indoor air quality in your house is a major contributor to the status of your health and your home, yet it is too often overlooked by homeowners across the country. Clean air is considered practically a given for many Americans, as emission standards have kept the country’s outdoor air clean and healthy, an expectation they maintain within the walls of their own home. 

Unfortunately, indoor air quality is seldom as clean as we’d like to believe, which can be detected through several signs of which everyone should be aware. 

Monitor Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality

About Indoor Air Quality  

Indoor air quality, as defined by the United States Department of Labor, describes how inside air can affect a person’s health, comfort and ability to work, including factors such as temperature, humidity, poor ventilation, mold from water damage, exposure to other chemicals, and more. 

The effects of poor indoor air quality range according to the affected individual as well as the severity of the causes. Sometimes, immediate effects occur that can be either mild or severe, whereas other cases develop over time through repeated or consistent exposure to pollutants. As the EPA explains, the likelihood of an immediate reaction to poor air quality depends on subjective factors such as age, preexisting medical conditions, and individual sensitivity. Others may become sensitized to biological or chemical pollutants after repeated, high-level or sustained exposure, minimizing the types of immediate reactions that they would otherwise notice, but also increases the likelihood of far more problematic symptoms and signs. 

The sooner you realize your home suffers from poor indoor air quality, the easier it will be to rectify the issues, sparing your health and your house from long-term damage. 

What Affects IAQ 

There are many things that may affect the air quality of your home, such as poor ventilation, a lack of outside air, inability to control temperature, high or low humidity, as well as activities in or near your home, such as recent remodeling. As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration explains, construction and renovation create dust that may cause poor indoor air quality. Cleaning supplies, pesticides, and other airborne chemicals are just as viable to contribute to declining air quality that may lead to a sick home. 

A “sick house” is defined as a residence with poor air quality that may cause its inhabitants to become ill. Houses can become “sick” through a buildup of air pollutants from causes such as household products, building materials, formaldehyde, and respirable particles. Researchers at Georgia State University explain houses in cold climates are more prone to becoming “sick” during the winter because the cool air holds less moisture and replaces air with moisture and contaminants. Conversely, houses in warm or humid climates are more likely to become “sick” during the summer, as the moist outdoor air may increase mildew in the home.  

Though the best cure for a sick house is proper ventilation with clean, outdoor air, if your home is not properly air-conditioned with sufficient dehumidification, the moisture outside may contribute to poor air quality inside. 

Signs Of Poor Air Quality: Your Health

 

 

There are several signs that the air quality in your home is deficient, but your own body is the clearest indicator of any potential issues. Often, you’ll experience symptoms that mirror side effects of a cold, such as a runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, and coughing. If the air quality is severely poor, you may even experience more serious symptoms such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. 

As the experts at Allergy And Air explain, preexisting allergies may flare up when exposed to irritants like pollen or dust that are contaminating the air quality of your home. These reactions may be signs of a less severe contamination, but if you notice new or unusual symptoms, there is probably a much more dangerous problem with your air quality. These may include dizziness, nausea, rashes, fevers, fatigue, or even vomiting, muscle pain, shortness of breath, or hearing loss.  

Because a lot of these symptoms mirror effects of other common problems, it’s important to understand exactly how issues with air quality might affect your health. 

As you inhale particles from the air, such as dust or pollen, you may become congested with a cough as your body combats the foreign agents; accordingly, if you frequently become congested after coming home, your air quality may need to be addressed. More alarming symptoms such as fatigue and dizziness are often signs of a more serious problem, such as fumes, carbon monoxide, or other chemical and gaseous air contaminants affecting your air quality. 

The irritants in the air will affect the most sensitive and vulnerable parts of the body first, such as the eyes, nose, throat, mouth, and tongue. Your mucous membranes are the most susceptible to contaminants, so these areas may begin to itch, water, run or even burn when exposed to poor air quality in the home. The next most likely part of the body to be affected is the skin. When spending a prolonged period of time in a home with poor air quality, your skin may start to dry, peel or flake, as well as develop rashes or redness on sensitive areas of the skin. This is especially true for any who already struggle with skin conditions like eczema or acne. 

Poor indoor air quality may lead to a myriad of health concerns, including a rapid, acute onset of symptoms that can act as signs that indicate a problem that needs to be addressed. Other symptoms may be slow and more difficult to detect, so it’s important to look for other signs beyond your health, too. 

Signs Of Poor Air Quality: Your Home

In addition to health symptoms, there are signs around the home that may indicate a problem with the air quality. The odor is an important sign to pay attention to, as a bad smell around the house may suggest that a filter in your air conditioning unit needs to be changed. Other unpleasant odors like a musty, stuffy smell may be signs of a mold or mildew that has infiltrated the home and affected its air quality, as Georgia State University explains.  

Oftentimes, there will also be visible signs of poor air quality, such as black or green spots to indicate a biological growth. Additionally, the EPA states that inconsistencies in air distribution through the home may indicate a problem with the air quality. If one area is colder or warmer than another, there is likely a problem affecting the purity of the airflow. 

“Most of the things that cause [air quality] problems are odorless,” says Dr. Nicholas of Harvard-Medical School. “So, in many cases, there’s nothing to alert you to the problem.”

Because problems to air quality can be difficult to spot, it’s important to stay cognizant of these warning sign, and contact the professionals as soon as you notice them. 

Go with the Airflow: How to get the most out of your air conditioner with efficient airflow

Improving the efficiency of your air conditioning is a great way to save yourself money on utility costs, maintain the health of your air conditioning unit for longer, and keep you cooler. With warmer weather just around the corner, now is the time to make sure your air conditioner is fully operational and giving you the best airflow efficiency.

 

Read on to learn about the importance of airflow efficiency, and our tips on how to maximize the function of your air conditioner in time for summer.

 

We’ve assembled some of the best ways to optimize airflow and get the most out of your air conditioner. From general maintenance tips to optimizing the area surrounding your AC unit, we’ve got all the information you need to ensure you stay cool and comfortable.

 

What Problems Are Caused By Inefficient Airflow?

 

 

1 – High Energy Costs

One of the main issues that stems from an inefficient air conditioner is that it can really ramp up your energy bills. Around ¾ of US homes have air conditioning installed, and the electricity required to run it makes up a large chunk of your energy bill. If your house and AC unit are not optimized for efficient airflow, you’ll likely be using more energy than you need.

 

2 – Your Air Conditioner Could Break Completely

If your air conditioner is not maintained to keep it healthy and efficient, you run the risk of the unit breaking completely. The filters, coils and fins all require regular cleaning and maintenance in order to keep them working efficiently. If you neglect to keep your air conditioner in good condition, it will have a much shorter lifespan.

 

3 – Dangers of Leaking Coolant

Inefficient air conditioners are much more likely to break, and this can cause the coolant, or refrigerant, to leak out of the unit. If a coolant is leaked, especially in hot weather, it can evaporate and form freon. Freon is an odorless, tasteless gas that can cause serious damage to your internal organs and cells if inhaled. Reduce the risk of leaked coolant by getting your air conditioner regularly maintained by a professional.

 

4 – Increased Risk of Dehydration

Aside from the financial cost of replacing or repairing an inefficient air conditioner, the risk of having no air conditioning in your home during the hottest months of the year pose a serious threat to your physical health. Dehydration occurs quickly when temperatures soar, causing dizziness, blurred vision, and in extreme cases loss of consciousness.

 

5 – Heat Exhaustion & Heatstroke

Other heat-related health issues include heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Heat exhaustion can lead to dizziness and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is a serious medical issue and should be treated by medical professionals. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, fever and chills. You are more at risk of developing a heat-related health problem in hot weather if your air conditioner isn’t working efficiently.

 

How to Improve the Airflow of Your Air Conditioner

 

In order to keep your house fresh and cool and your air conditioning unit working to its best capacity, you need to increase airflow efficiency. Here are our top tips for maximizing airflow and keeping you air conditioner healthy and functional.

 

1 – Clean Your Unit’s Filters Thoroughly

Ideally you should clean your air conditioner’s air filter once per month, especially when it is in high use during the warmer seasons. There are a few different ways to clean your filter. You can use a vacuum cleaner to suck out any debris that has collected there. You can also wash your filter with warm water, or use a damp cloth to remove dirt and dust. You can get rid of any odor from your filter by scrubbing it with baking soda. Avoid using soap products or washing your filter with dishes as this can leave an unwanted residue on the filter.

 

2 – Clean the Drain Line

The drain line is the part of your air conditioner that drains the condensed liquids. An air conditioner is designed to collect water in the air and remove it through the drain line: this reduces humidity, cooling your home in the process. Over time, mildew, mold and other residues can build up in the drain line, causing your air conditioner to become less efficient. You can easily clean out your drain line by pouring a cup of bleach into the pipe. This will unclog anything that has accumulated there and keep your AC in top working order.

 

3 – Clear Out Vents in Your Home

As well as regularly maintaining your air conditioner, you need to make sure your home is optimized for efficient air flow. This means you need to keep your vents clean and clear of debris and any blockages. Indoor vents help keep the flow of air to your air conditioner steady which means it can work to its full capacity. Vacuum indoor vents to remove dust and other build-ups, and make sure your vents aren’t obstructed by furniture or blinds.

 

4 – Close All Windows and Doors

Your air conditioner won’t work properly if it’s trying to process all the air in the outside world as well as the air inside your home! When your AC unit is in use, make sure to keep all windows and doors closed so your home is kept cool and reduce the amount of hot air that can get in from outside.

 

5 – Keep Heat-Producing Appliances Away from Your Thermostat

Your thermostat is used to tell your air conditioner what the temperature of the air is, and controls how hard the AC unit has to work in order to keep your home cool. If your thermostat registers heat from a heat-producing appliance, it will communicate to the air conditioner that the air is hotter than it actually is, and the air conditioner will have to work harder, thinking your home needs to be cooled more. Avoid this by keeping all lamps, stoves, boilers, and other heat-producing kitchen appliances away from your thermostat.

 

6 – Ensure Ductwork is Properly Sealed

The ductwork of an air conditioner is what transports the air from room to room, removing warm air and delivering cool air in its place. If your ductwork is not properly sealed, there can be leaks of air into spaces that you don’t need conditioned, such as loft or basement spaces. Use special duct-sealing tape to mend any visible gaps in your ductwork. Alternatively, hire professional help with ensuring all your ductwork is properly sealed and functional around your home.

 

7 – Avoid Using Large Heat-Producing Appliances in the Daytime

 

 

During the warm seasons, the middle of day is the hottest time and is likely when your air conditioner will have to work the hardest. Using large heat-producing appliances at this time of day, such as an oven, heater, or dryer will cause extra hot air to be drawn into your home. Avoid using these appliances in the middle of the day to help optimize airflow and keep your home fresh and cool.

 

 

 

So, there you have all the information you need to get the most out of your air conditioner. Maximizing airflow is achieved through regular maintenance of your AC unit, as well as by optimizing your home to keep air as cool as possible. We recommend seeking professional assistance in the installation of upkeep of your air conditioner, as this will ensure it is working efficiently and not eating into your energy bill.

 

Stay cool and go with the airflow!

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